Vern Akin

Vernon Akin
(May 5, 1920 - July 10, 2003)

When Vern Akin opened the doors to his engineering firm in 1973, he did it with little more than an idea. And when he left us 30 years later, he left with us not only the firm he had built, but more importantly, the idea he had built it upon. During Vern’s engineering lifetime, that idea was best expressed when after working with Vern on a project, one contractor remarked “You will never last – Too fussy – You expect too much”. Our firms’ present day existence and spectacular success proves this particular remark to be quite amusing! His intent on any given project was to ensure that the project was completed correctly and as specified, that the Owner received the quality they had expected, and that all the mechanical systems within the project worked in symphony with one another the way the design was intended.

Vernon Akin was born in Portland, Oregon a little over 92 years ago. He remained in that area until he joined the army. After 38 months in the army he went to school on the GI Bill. Vern graduated from Oregon State University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and went to work for Industrial Air Products in the Oxygen Plant in Portland until 1952. Vern then joined one of the most prestigious engineering consulting firms in the Pacific Northwest, J. Donald Kroecker & Associates, located in Portland, Oregon. He became a Professional Engineer in 1954 in Oregon and in 1962 in the State of Alaska (No. 1128-E). Vern started making frequent trips to Alaska in 1961 working as a Project Mechanical Engineer for the Kroecker company who was commissioning the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API). In 1964 (post South-central Alaska earthquake) he moved to Juneau to be in charge of the local office until 1970. He was then employed by Leonard Lowell & Associates, a Juneau electrical engineering firm, for two years before opening his own firm Vernon Akin & Associates on January 1st, 1973.

Throughout his life, as many contractors, other consultants, and building owners will attest, Vern had a reputation for commitment to quality, and maintaining the highest level of integrity. Vern was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), Alaska Society of Professional Engineers (ASPE), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a Life Member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and was a long time member of the Juneau Yacht Club. Vern was Southeast State Director of ASPE for over ten years in 1980’s, was a member of the City and Borough Building Code Advisory Committee from 1976 to 1992, and was a Commodore of the Juneau Yacht Club. In 1990 Vern was awarded Engineering Honorarium for the Southeast Chapter of ASPE.Other than engineering, Vern loved to play music any chance he could. In fact, as a teenager, Vern played and sang with his parents on the radio program “Stars of Tomorrow”. Vern could play a wide variety of string and keyboard instruments but didn’t read music and instead played by memory and ear only. He enjoyed playing most music but preferred old time western/cowboy and bluegrass music. He loved playing at his weekly “jam session” at his home for years and especially loved playing for the public Friday nights at Juneau's Marine Park and at the Pioneers Home. Vern was also an accomplished bowler, and bowled in Juneau’s leagues for many years. Some of his other hobbies included fishing and working on his North Douglas home, affectionately called “Fort Akin”.Vern’s passion for engineering and his legacy of contributing to the profession he so loved, will live on in a scholarship fund bearing his name at the Alaska Engineering and Education Foundation (AEEF). His expertise, our memories of his wonderful green apron, and his presence also lives on in the spirit of our work here at Murray & Associates.

He is the kind of individual that makes an undeniable difference in ones' career and life, whether or not he ever intended to do so. It is our honor to work daily within his established framework of integrity and quality.

A look at the Company's Past

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"The bitterness of POOR QUALITY is remembered long after the sweetness of LOW PRICE is forgotten!"

-Vernon Akin